Leeds Rhinos captain Kruise Leeming says it is the “laid back” nature of head coach Rohan Smith that has helped turn around the club’s fortunes.
When Smith was appointed as head coach in April, Leeds were closer to a relegation battle than a play-off push and were still tenth in the table at the beginning of July.
But a staggering turnaround saw them reach the top six, then conquer Catalans Dragons and Wigan Warriors to reach a first Super League Grand Final in five seasons.
Now only St Helens stand in the way of the Rhinos claiming the league title, a barely imaginable scenario when the Australian was first handed the reins.
Leeming, who could lift the Super League trophy at Old Trafford in his first season as club captain, says Smith’s approach was one he had not seen before.
“He’s very laid back, very calm and cool and calculated in a rugby sense with what he wants, how he wants us to play,” said Leeming.
“It was strange for me as a player to see that different approach. I’ve not had coaches like that before and I liked it.
“I felt like when you’re playing really well, he keeps you grounded and neutral and level. And when you’re playing bad, he says you’re not playing that bad and keeps you grounded and neutral that way. It’s a good outlook to have on sport.
“It’s been so far, so good. He’s been a perfect fit for us. I still feel like he’s holding back on what he knows and what he wants to coach. I still think there’s a heap of stuff he’s got in store for us and we could be so much better than we have been, which is really exciting.
“But I feel he’s found something that works for us right now, and having a pre-season with him who knows where we could go?”
Like his coach and many of his teammates, it will be a first Grand Final for Leeming, and the hooker is keen to make the most of the whole experience.
He said: “To walk out in front of 60,000 people will be an experience, and to win the Grand Final – these are things not a lot of people do.
“That’s what you want to get out of life. I want to achieve things that few people have achieved.”